Archives for posts with tag: sweater

Pattern: Shalom Cardigan (rav link/pdf link)

Size made: don’t harsh my mellow, man, that’s not the way I roll

Yarn used: Elann Peru Soft in color 801 (pale gray), 5.5 skeins (539 yards). This was a limited edition yarn, so it’s long gone from the Elann website, but it was really nice–45% Acrylic, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Wool, 15% Kid Mohair, a singles with a nice natural feel despite the high acrylic content, next-to-skin soft, and I think I actually got this whole bag of 10 skeins/980 yds on sale for $18 + shipping. So the yarn cost for this was about $10 for a long-sleeved cardigan. Not bad!

Needles used: US 10.5/6.5 mm

Date started: June 28, 2010

Date completed: July 29, 2010

Mods/Notes: The Shalom Cardigan comes in only one size, and it’s not quite my size. My gauge was also not quite right (I didn’t swatch, either, just cast on and started knitting). I ignored all this and kept knitting. Sometimes you just really do not want to do math. I am ashamed to say that I also only tried this on after completing the yoke–the rest of the body of the cardigan was fudged, which is why it doesn’t really fit around any part of my torso except the yoke. I kept trying on half the cardigan and saying “hey, it fits” but never did the Right Thing, which would have been to put it on a piece of waste yarn and try it on around my WHOLE BODY instead of just the left half. (Or to actually take gauge measurements and compare the stitch counts and gauge to my own actual body.)

My gauge was about 13 sts/4” (the suggested stitch gauge” but 16 rows/4” (way off from the suggested 20 rows/4”). I ended up doing 6 rows in each tier of ribbing, then 5 or 6 garter rows (3 ridges) at the end of the yoke before putting the stitches on waste yarn for the sleeves.

I cast on 10 sts under each arm for gussets, but quickly realized that was probably way too much. I worked k2tog on all the gusset stitches on the next RS row, then worked ssk/k1/k2tog at the underarm seamline for the next few RS rows until I had decreased out all the extra underarm gusset stitches. I also altered the ratio of stitches to more or less reflect the ratios of my body: 25 sts each front, 34 sts each arm, 51 sts back.

Buttonholes went in once about every 6 garter ridges at first, then every 8 ridges.

I decided to do another pair of decreases at the side seams every inch, three times, to shape the waist. (I shouldn’t have, and would have realized that if I had tried the sweater on in progress!) Increased every other RS row after passing the waistline, to get it back up to hip measurements.

After casting off the body, I found that it didn’t quite fit me except in the yoke, even after a severe wet-blocking and stretching. So while I sewed on buttons to match the buttonholes all the way down, only the top three buttons can be closed without crazy gaping and stretching. Here is the embarrassing photo for proof–see how the nice straight | at the buttonband in the yoke area quickly changes to ZSZSZS in the rest of the body?

I added long sleeves to the cardigan to make it more useful–picked up the held stitches for the sleeves and picked up/decreased the underarm gusset stitches as well, knit to elbow length and then decreased in pairs every inch or so to shape the sleeves, ending in garter stitch. The sleeves are skintight–I should have left a bit more ease.

It came out cute despite the sizing issues… I really like the combination of the vintage blue glass buttons and the pale gray yarn. The buttons are from General Bead in San Francisco, and I’ve been holding onto them for a while, waiting for the right project. (I think the only buttons I’m still hoarding for the right sweater now are a set of small, adorable sushi buttons that call for a fine-gauge plain cardi.)

Though it might appear from this photo like I’ve been wired to spy on the mob, the lump on my back is actually from the waist ties on the sundress I’m wearing.


I think it will be a nice cardigan for the fall, especially if I can manage to stretch it out a bit more with wear. Or if I happen to suddenly lose about 30 pounds in the next couple of months. I’m a little nervous about the pilling potential for this yarn because it’s so softly spun, but we’ll see how it goes. (If this one ends up being unusable, I would even consider making another cardigan from this pattern, but I’d do it properly next time.)

If I decide to continue the quick-knit cardigans trend, I’m thinking of doing a short-sleeved, wide-necked Liesl with two skeins of fingering weight yarn held together. (From what I hear, it should take me only a few days to complete…) I was also eyeing a couple of Drops patterns, like this cable-yoke one or this one with a lacy yoke. Or Loppem, which has been in my queue forever.

…for knitting big gray sweaters.

Here is the first one I have to show off:

Pattern: DROPS 103-1 Jacket in Eskimo or Silke-Alpaca with A-shape –the chunky-weight version.

Here’s what DROPS has to say about it: ” – Wind, rain and falling leaves… Leave dreary days behind and dress up super elegant and classy, and still high fashion this fall !”

Size made: Small (33″)

Yarn used: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in 550 Damp, a dark gray with blue, green, and white tweed flecks. I used a little over 5 skeins (600 yards).

Needles used: US size 11/8.0 mm

Date started: January 5, 2010

Date completed: June 23, 2010

Mods/Notes:
I knit on this at a pretty good clip until I got to the sleeves and finishing–I think the sleeves took about a month each and the finishing took another two. (Real time = maybe 2 hours, but it sat in a basket waiting for buttons, blocking, and sewing for a loooong time.)

I decided to knit the sleeves from the top down, two at a time, magic loop, to make them the same length and avoid extra finishing work, but this backfired because I got really tired of dragging out this enormous pile of wool and turning it around and around in my lap every time I wanted to work on this sweater. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds by that time and it just seemed like such an unpleasant task. In the end, if I had just knit the sleeves the normal way, I think it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

The other thing about doing the sleeves this way is that I suck at picking up stitches nicely, so I found after a few inches that there were big holes all around the armscye where I had picked up from the wrong part of the stitch or something. I had to go back and sew these shut at the end–so I didn’t even save myself the trouble of setting in sleeves! It was exactly the same amount of sewing as if I’d knit them separately and set them in afterwards.

If I find my more detailed notes, I will edit this later, but to the best of my recollection, this is what I did for the top-down sleeves: I sewed the shoulder seam and picked up 60 stitches at an even rate around the armhole, placed markers for the top 1/3 of the stitches on either shoulder, and short rowed back and forth, going past the wraps 2 stitches each time, until I had a sleeve cap. Went back to pick up all wraps and knit both sleeves in the round, two at a time, until a bit above elbow length. Decreased 2 stitches every 2″ (working the sleeve shaping backwards, in effect) until I had 50 stitches. Worked the sleeve edging in double moss stitch and bound off. You can see the sleeves are sort of saggy under the arms/balloony in shape, but it’s not too bad.

I bought some big green buttons at Jo-Ann Fabrics to match the green tweed flecks. I only put on two in the end–they looked a little crowded with the third one on there. I’m not terribly satisfied with the way the bottom of the left lapel kind of sags down in front–a product of the double-breastedness of this jacket, and no interior snap or button to hold that side up. It might be worth putting something in to keep it up. I noticed the same thing, though to a somewhat lesser extent, with the shrug I made for Casey from this same pattern (well, kinda sorta the same. Similar.).

The back looks really surprisingly nice, nicer than the front, actually, though now that I’m looking at it I wonder what I did with the “A-shape” of this sweater, as it just looks like it hugs my shape instead of flaring out properly:

Here is a slightly closer view where you can see the weird sleeve caps, saggy underarms, two buttons, and collar fold in all their glory:

When I was mournfully knitting those Sisyphean sleeves for months and months, I was thinking I wouldn’t be very happy with the end product and that I should just give it away at Christmas. Now that it’s done and blocked, though, I like it quite a bit more and might hold onto it. It has a bit more ease than many of my sweaters, so it’s surprisingly comfy, and less heavy than I thought it would be. However, I still don’t love it as much as the other ones I’ve seen that first inspired me to add this to my queue–e.g., the Flintknits olive green version–maybe I just need to try knitting yet another one? Or style it with dark skinny jeans instead of a summer sundress.

OK, I really meant to go out and look at penguins at the zoo, but then about an hour ago I noticed the light was bright enough to take some photos indoors (albeit mostly very blurry ones) and got sidetracked by taking photos of my latest, favoritest FO: Eastlake. It’s still a little damp, but I can’t believe how great it came out. Once I finish writing this post, it’s off to penguinland. I haven’t made it to that corner of the Vilas Zoo yet, and I suspect those little guys are having a ball in this weather.



Pattern: Eastlake, by Norah Gaughan, from Norah Gaughan Volume 3. Used the errata corrections shown here. My ravelry page for this is here.

Size made: smallest (32″)

Yarn used: Taupe/mushroom School Products Multi-Strand Cashmere, bought from Stephanie’s destash sale, 450 grams used total (no idea of the actual yardage, unfortunately, since the yarn doesn’t have ballbands and it’s not on the School Products site anymore).

I LOVE this yarn–it knit into a dense, plush, velvety fabric, and the stockinette looks beautifully rich and even. However, it’s made up of three chainette strands wound together into a ball with no twist added, so it was very snaggy indeed, and I encountered a pretty high number of knots in one strand or another, at which point I would have to cut the yarn.

I felt kind of bad about this yarn for a while. Stephanie was destashing a lot of yarn at a very good price because she wanted to give it all a new home where it would be loved and appreciated, and then once I bought this, it sat around in my closet for ages, with no project in mind, and somehow I felt vaguely like I’d let her down, or snatched the yarn away from someplace where it would really be loved and confined it in a new, neglectful, unloving home. No such worries anymore; I think this is the perfect pattern for this yarn, so it’s time to transfer my stash guilt to something else.

Needles used: US size 5/3.75 mm for the ribbing, US size 7/4.5 mm for the rest of the sweater

Date started: November 25, 2008

Date finished: December 6, 2008

Mods:

  • Knit the front and back in one piece in the round up to the underarms, and knit the sleeves in the round, two at a time, magic loop.
  • Due to knitting in the round, I subtracted 2 stitches where each seam would have gone. If you also choose to do this, note that the ribbing in the back has to start with p2 k2 rather than k2 p2 to line up right with the front ribbing. Also, on the even-numbered rows, the YOs have to be purled, not knit (this is obvious, if you think about it, since these are WS rows in the original directions, but it took me a couple of rounds wondering why I was knitting the stitches on one round and purling them on the next before the shoe dropped and I realized I hadn’t fully reversed the pattern directions).
  • Also due to knitting in the round, once I split for the front and back and started doing the armhole shaping, I omitted the first decrease round after binding off the armpits, to get to the proper stitch count. (Otherwise, since I omitted 2 sts for the side seam, I would have had 2 sts too few.)
  • Accidentally left out the plain knit round before the eyelet round on the eyelet decoration round on the chest and the first one on the sleeves. I noticed my mistake and knit the extra round on the 2 eyelet rounds at the elbow.
  • Knit 3 reverse stockinette rounds for each purl ridge. (I think the pattern calls for only two rounds on one piece, either the front or the back)
  • Because I didn’t have the right length cable handy when I knit the purl band around the neckline, I knit it back and forth rather than in the round, and seamed it at the back neck.
  • Twisted the stem stitches in the front panel on every round rather than every other round, since I was working in the round and it was easy to see which stitches these were
  • Didn’t twist my M1 sts in the front panel, so they came out as eyelets along the main stem. This was actually an accident at first, but I liked the effect and left it alone.

Notes: Norah Gaughan is a genius. There are no words for how much I love this sweater–I think it’s my new favorite. It was an easy knit, addictive to work on because of the interesting, constantly changing but also predictable front wheat sheaf panel, and the finished product is gorgeous, flattering, and elegant, if I do say so myself.

I have to admit the pattern is sort of hard to follow. Not because it’s poorly written, but because it’s written to follow particular style/space guidelines, so all the directions are crammed into these slightly cryptic running text paragraphs, and I kept losing my place. Also, the wheat sheaf pattern isn’t charted. You can get a chart from someone on Ravelry if you can prove you own the pattern, but I didn’t bother. It would have been nice, but it’s not terribly hard to follow the written directions; the pattern is very intuitive as long as you pay attention to where to start the top decreases for each leaf and where to start each new stem.

I only finished the sweater so quickly because I had some huge blocks of time during the Thanksgiving holiday to work on it–about 12 hours in the car, plus hours of idle time spent watching movies and such.  I wouldn’t have rushed it so much, either, but I was trying to finish it during NaKniSweMo as part of a Stash and Burn challenge/knitalong. I didn’t make it, but I came really close–I finished the front and back and several inches of the sleeves before throwing in the towel at midnight on the last day of November.

This photo is not especially nice or exciting or anything, but it might be helpful for anyone making this sweater who wants to see how the back neck extensions get seamed:

Sorry about the silence for a while there–I really needed that Thanksgiving break! I was drowning in work, and a week or two spent working into the wee hours of the morning paid off in allowing me to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend relatively work-free and relaxed.

On Thanksgiving day, we drove about 5 hours south to Rahul’s aunt and uncle’s house in rural central Illinois, and his parents drove up from Missouri to meet us there.  It’s deep in America’s flat, corn-filled heartland, the type of area where they show GM seed corn ads on prime time TV and you can listen to radio call-in shows dedicated to farm equipment classifieds (RFD Trading Post)–fascinating for an urban Californian! “Uh, hello, I’m interested in buying some billy goats, but I only want billy goats without horns. No horns. So if you have a billy goat with no horns, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.” “I got some farm fresh eggs for sale. XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thanks.”

We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner–turkey with all the fixings–but some yummy Indian food the other days, too: tandoori chicken, shrimp curry, biryani, a coconut-rice vermicelli dish called shevia (the last half of the word should be pronounced in a sort of slurry of vowels and approximants, sort of like Ozzy Osborne in that Samsung commercial).

We went shopping in Springfield on Black Friday and the day after. I feel sort of ashamed to admit that I had any part of this celebration of gluttonous American consumerism, but we were fairly practical, buying useful, cold-weather things on sale like chapstick and flannel sheets and a fake-down comforter, instead of silly things like Bacon-Waves and talking football-shaped candy dishes. We did buy a semi-frivolous Roomba at a doorbuster sale but found upon opening it that it didn’t have all the features we wanted: you have to manually start it–it can’t be set up to run automatically, and it doesn’t “go home” to charge afterwards, you just have to stumble over it wherever it happened to stop vacuuming and take it back to recharge. So we returned it, and my dreams of an amazing robot maid will have to be deferred. (An aside: I think iRobot is a terrible name for a robot company, don’t you?)

We did see some good old-fashioned Black Friday douchebaggery: a woman asked Rahul to hold her place in line for a sec when we first lined up, then she came back 45 minutes later, when we were about 5 people from the front of the line, and said “Oh, there you are! Thanks for holding my place” and shamelessly ducked back into line, completely ignoring her mortified husband telling her they had to go to the end of the line. Amazingly, aside from some complaining from us, a manager, and the people directly behind her, there were essentially no consequences for her jerkface behavior: she got to check out pretty much right away. But that was the biggest drama we saw, no fistfights over Wiis or anything like that.

Aside from that, we spent lots of time vegetating and hanging out with Rahul’s family. We watched lots and lots and lots of news about Mumbai, and I saw The Godfather for the first time, and the The Last King of Scotland. Both fantastic, of course.

Plus, at the same time, I did lots and lots of knitting! I cast on for Eastlake just before we left, and knit for a total of 20+ hours over the course of 4 days during car rides and while we watched movies or TV. I was trying desperately to meet my NaKniSweMo goal of finishing Flicca plus making one more sweater during the month of November, but fell short last night, only getting a few inches into the sleeves before calling it quits for the night. Still, I made good progress, and the sweater is going to be cushy and delicious once I’m done–I’m making it in a velvety taupe worsted-weight cashmere from School Products (via Klosekraft’s destash sale), and knitting as much of it as possible in the round. The leaf motif is so addictive I think I might even make an Eastscarf.

Last but not least, I finished the Malabrigo socks that were giving me such fits before, and wrote up the pattern! It’s available as a free download, with the caveat that this is a sock pattern by a sock moron and thus is not at all guaranteed to be any good. Here they are, the Tyro Socks, knit in the lovely Indiecita colorway:

Toe-up socks written for beginners, using the yarn-over short-row toe and heel described by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy (photo tutorial included in the pattern, for sock morons like me), and a simple, softly curving lace pattern mirrored on the left and right feet. The lace pattern is easy to read and to memorize, and it’s mostly stockinette (every other row is plain knit stitches).

You may notice some visual similarities to other patterns: the Pomatomus socks and Spirogyra mitts in particular. (There may be others, too, but those are the only ones I know of.) However, despite the similarities, which only occurred to me after I’d started, I can assure you that these socks were designed the old-fashioned way, from scratch, futzing around with a stitch dictionary and doing some swatching and math to mirror the stitch pattern and make it work with the stitch count. Namely, the parent stitch pattern is the Overlapping Waves pattern in The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.

This is a pattern of many knitting milestones for me. First pair of socks, first sock pattern, first short-row toe, and last but not least, first semi-creepy Flickr group request for photos of my feet. Ha! I’d read all kinds of tempest-in-a-teapot discussions on Ravelry about foot fetishists lurking on knitting websites to ogle sock FO photos, but this was the first direct encounter I’d had with them.

Let there be much rejoicing: I have a Finished Object!

Pattern: Flicca, by Anna Bell

Size made: Small

Yarn used: RYC Soft Tweed, color 005 Twig, approximately 14.5 skeins

Needles used: US size 10.5/6.5 mm

Date started: September 28, 2008

Date finished: November 19, 2008

Mods:

  • Knit about 2 extra rows on collar before starting short rows; knit another 4 rows or so after completing short rows.
  • Lengthened the ribbed buttonbands to match the deeper collar
  • Knit longer in 3×1 rib than I should have (15″ instead of 12″) and knit the 2×1 rib section to 22″ instead of 24″.
  • Crocheted along the back neck and partway around the armholes for stability, rather than sewing in a ribbon
  • Made the sleeves narrower by starting with 2×1 rib instead of 3×1 rib.

Notes:

(heavy sigh.) Somehow I thought the size 10.5 needles would make this knit fly by, but it turned out to be a big slog of a sweater. It took me a month and a half, including some good long blocks of marathon knitting–this is much longer than average.

Late last night, I finished seaming it all up and weaving in the ends, put on the finished sweater, and had that terrible sinking feeling that comes from realizing you have spent a month and a half lovingly handcrafting a garment with all the figure-flattering qualities of an inflatable sumo wrestler costume or caribou suit.

In its favor, it is nice and warm, light for its size, and really cozy. I haven’t blocked it yet, partly because it won’t fit in the sink and I’m going to have to fill up the washing machine to soak it, and partly because the idea of cuddling up in it and wearing it to work all day today was so appealing. I’m assuming that the messy appearance of the ribbing will improve somewhat once I’ve blocked it.

Also, despite the instructions to the contrary in the pattern, and the prospect of carrying around a gigantic pile of knitting for longer than necessary, I think I should have modified this to be as seamless as possible: the fronts and back in one piece, the sleeves in the round, raglan decreases a la Craftoholic, and the buttonbands and collar all in one piece. The seams are so bulky in this yarn that they don’t hang nicely.

The shawl collar is knit separately from the front buttonbands and seamed to them at the base of the neckline, which is nice in the sense that you never have to deal with too many stitches on the needle at once, but the problem is that the collar keeps flipping over so the seams are visible (and they are right in the middle of the chest; you can see the collar seams quite clearly in these photos). Knitting the collar in halves and seaming along the back of the neck probably would have worked better.

Given the generous sizing, I’m glad I didn’t buy toggles or buttons to fasten the front. I think the most attractive solution for keeping it closed may be to sew a button to the side, just under the bust (where I’m holding the edge in the photos) and crochet a little button loop on the opposite front.

Anyway, I’m DONE! Finally! And that means I’ve completed half my goals for NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month: I’m knitting along with the Stash and Burn groupies) and now I just have to finish one more sweater in November. Easy, right? I just have to pick something the size of a normal sweater rather than the size of a queen-size duvet.

More gory details about exactly how long each piece took me and how much yarn I used for each piece are on my Ravelry project page.


Finally, I got some pictures of Cherry so I can do my proper FO write-up!

This picture from our balcony came out the best–don’t I look self-confident/-satisfied?–but I had to crop out the bike rack and bright blue broom from the sides of this photo.


Closer up:

Closest up, here’s one with a great view of the gapey buttonbands:

Pattern: Cherry, by Anna Bell, from My Fashionable Life/Needle and Hook
Size made: Small (32″)
Finished dimensions: more or less as stated
Yarn used: Rowan Calmer in 484 Lucky, 4.5 skeins or about 790 yards. (It’s $6.25 a skein at that link! You’re welcome!)
Needles used: US size 3/3.25 mm Addi Turbos for the ribbing, US size 6/4.0 mm Options needles for the rest
Date started: August 20, 2008
Date finished: September 6, 2008
Mods:

  • Used an Italian tubular cast-on and tubular bind-off for all ribbed edges.
  • Worked both sleeves at the same time.
  • Cabled without a cable needle
  • Left a 1-stitch garter selvage on all edges to be seamed (i.e. knit the first and last stitch of every row). I have tried other selvages for seaming and just don’t like them.
  • Messed up my gauge somehow, so the sweater is a bit tighter than it was meant to be.
  • Added an extra snap or two.
  • Worked the whole body in one piece, fronts and back together, subtracting 2 sts at each seam, with decreases worked right next to each other for waist shaping, increases worked a stitch apart. This messed with the math for the neck and armhole shaping a bit, but nothing disastrous.

Notes: This really is not the easiest sweater pattern to follow–I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, for various reasons.

I didn’t find errors in the pattern, but there’s a lot going on: you need to be able to read your knitting in order to keep the little birds pattern lined up (it’s not charted, unfortunately) as you work decreases and increases into it. It will also drive you insane unless you can figure out which row of the pattern you’re on by looking at it–I’d really hate to have to use a row counter to figure that out, because due to the shaping, the beginning of the row keeps shifting around.

You have to not be the kind of person who will get confused or lose track of shaping rows when you see an instruction like “dec 1 st at armhole edge of next 3 rows, then on foll 3 alt rows, and foll 4th row.” There’s a lot implied there–you have to know what “dec” means, which way it should lean and how to work it (k2tog, k3tog, p2tog, etc. are defined in the pattern abbreviations but “dec” is not); you should know that working it a stitch away from the edge will make seaming way easier; you have to know, as you’re working the piece, which side is the armhole edge.

I am apparently not the kind of person who can keep track of such things, because I happily finished the body on a Labor Day trip with Rahul and his parents to the Wisconsin Dells, but when I came home, pinned the shoulders together, and tried it on, I realized I’d misread the instructions for the back neck shaping and that the cardigan now had a deep scoop neck in the back as well as the front. After some anguish, and ridiculous thoughts of perhaps picking up stitches and knitting an inset for the back neck, I frogged it and fixed it.

Also, the sweater requires a ton of finishing work. I kept thinking “nearly there! I’m almost done!” and then remembering each of the little things I would have to do to wrap it all up. Luckily, I’m more of a product knitter than a process knitter, so I usually don’t have trouble with seaming, etc., but the sweater does require:

  • seaming side seams (which I was able to skip, happily)
  • seaming underarm seams
  • seaming fronts to back
  • setting in sleeves (I killed two birds with one stone by leaving long tails on each piece and using them to do all the seaming before weaving them in)
  • picking up and knitting two buttonbands
  • picking up and knitting neckband
  • making twisted cord for waistband (I had to do this twice because I made it too short the first time)
  • sewing on buttons
  • sewing on snaps in between the buttons
  • weaving in a minimum of 17 ends (assuming you have a big cone of yarn and don’t need to weave in any additional ends from the ends of skeins, just the starting and stopping points for the beginnings and ends of pieces)

I really love the finished product, though. It’s elegant, flattering, and so cute and wearable–not the kind of sweater where people will ask in faintly condescending tones, “oh, did you make that yourself?” (Even at the Sheep and Wool festival, no comments from strangers, which seems out of the ordinary for a fiber event.) I went with the pearly gray mother-of-pearl buttons in the end and I’m happy with them. I think it’s a good thing I did (I bought a larger size than I had originally, 5/8″) because I think the buttons would have come undone with a smaller button size (like the little owls).

Rowan Calmer, which is a soft, spongy-velvety, and elastic cotton-acrylic blend, is one of my favorite yarns–no exception on this project. I like the soft lavender color, too, even though I guess it’s been discontinued. The sweater does take up a surprisingly large amount of yarn, probably mainly due to the cables. In style, fit, and needle size, it seems pretty similar to my Green Gable sweater, and I would have guessed that they would take up a similar amount of yarn; but Cherry used almost 800 yards, while Green Gable used under 500.

I have not yet had the chance to find some Oxford Bags to wear this with, but I can report so far that it looks equally fabulous with jeans, brown cords from Steve & Barry’s, or a gray pencil skirt. Lavender + brown is a very pleasing color combination.

The main thing I don’t like about this sweater is that the buttonbands kind of stretch and gape, even over my less-than-generous assets. I think a fair number of other people have had this issue with the sweater (one of those people even sewed the front shut to make it a pullover fauxdigan instead). Perhaps I should have put grosgrain ribbon on the buttonbands? I don’t know if that would have helped. I decided to sew on one extra snap at the bottom because it originally gaped open and revealed my stomach to the world. It could probably do with a snap right where the waistband tie is, too, but so far tying the twisted cord tightly enough has taken care of holding the fronts shut.

Also, I feel a little nervous every time I fasten or undo the buttons and snaps. There are a lot of them and it takes a lot of time and care to undo them properly–I feel like a Victorian lady doing up her shoes with a buttonhook. Most of my clothes can be pulled on over my head, or at least have about half the number of fasteners on the front.

All in all, it’s one of my favorite sweaters so far. I think I probably say that about almost all the sweaters I make, but there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

In other news, our beer has stopped bubbling and I’m totally curious to look inside the big white bucket, but we have to keep the cover on it until it’s time to bottle. And I took photos of a bunch of new handspun yarns I’m very excited about, but I’ll save those for another post.

I have two new finished objects to show you, both made from Knit Picks Cotlin yarn in Moroccan Red, an inexpensive DK weight cotton-linen blend. I blogged about it before here, when I made a Bainbridge Scarf with it for my friend Jeanne.

Now that I’ve used it a bit more, some further thoughts: the color of this yarn is lovely and bright, and the yarn is pretty soft and drapey as far as I can tell. The two things I disliked about it were the occasional long, pokey fibers I would have to pull out of the yarn, presumably bits of flax, and its tendency to shed red fuzz as I was knitting with it (mentioned in my last post). It made me feel sneezy, and if I washed my hands after knitting with it for a while, little red fuzz pills would rub off my palms. These skeins seemed less fuzzy than the one I knit before–maybe it’s the effect of aging the yarn a bit.

I was undecided before, but I’ve decided I like it after all and I would use it again, especially since they’ve added a bunch of new colors that are right up my alley. Of the old ones, only this red and the natural linen color really appealed to me. Maybe Nightfall. But I wasn’t crazy about the sherbet colors like coral and turquoise. I love all the new ones, though–Coffee, Glacier, and Kohlrabi are all beautiful.

The Cotlin yarn for these two new FOs and the Bainbridge scarf is all from the same batch. I got it from chemgrrl, who bought too much for her super-adorable Cherry sweater. I was curious about it, so she gave me the skein I made into the Bainbridge scarf, and then she swapped me the sweater quantity, plus some mohair, for some Elann Den-m-nit
I had so she could make a jacket or something for her small niece.

I had it lined up for a lobster for a friend’s baby, but I’ll have to find a different red yarn for that, because the Cotlin is now all used up!

First up, Rusted Root! (Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve done a proper FO post)

Pattern: Rusted Root, from Zephyr Style, given to me as a Random Act of Kindness by knottygnome
Size made: Small (for 32-35″ bust), although my gauge wound up being off and the sweater measured about 34″ before blocking when it should have been 32″. Not that the pattern tells you this, of course.
Yarn used: Knit Picks Cotlin, Moroccan Red, approximately 4.5 skeins
Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm Denises for most of the sweater; US size 3/3.25 mm for the ribbing on the sleeves
Date started: May 5, 2008
Date finished: May 11, 2008
Mods: More tedious details about size and yarn usage can be found on the Ravelry page. I started with the neckline ribbing (since you pick up the same number of stitches as you cast on, in the same ratio, without short rows or any such things going on, I see no particular reason to pick up the neckline later) and worked 5 rows instead of 3, using the larger needles instead of going down a size. I did paired M1 increases around the raglan seam lines (lift from back and knit through front loop, k2, lift from front and knit through back loop).

I totally reworked the waist shaping, and then my gauge was off and I was unable to finish my reworked shaping scheme anyway–after I’d worked only 3 sets of hip increases out of my desired 5, the sweater was long enough and I decided to stop.

I also put in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s phoney seams on the sides before starting the ribbing.

I knit the neck and hip ribbing (about 9 rows) on size 7 needles, since I didn’t want them to draw in particularly, then knit the sleeve ribbing for 5 rows on size 3’s (I used k1fb to increase one on each sleeve to make the k2, p1 ribbing pattern work properly).

I used a sewn bindoff for the sleeves to make them stretchy, and a suspended bindoff in rib for the hip (since I hate sewing with that long, long tail over long distances… I really should have used the sewn bindoff at the hip, too; it could definitely be stretchier, but it’s not terrible as is, either.)

Notes:
I hope to have more photos later. It’s unblocked and hot off the needles in this photo (so it’s all uneven and lumpy, and it’s being worn over a clearly unsuitable tunic top instead of a camisole).

The thing is, I committed a Cardinal Sin of knitting with this sweater. I didn’t knit or wash my swatch the way I would wash my finished garment–I knit a flat swatch instead of one in the round (hence the aforementioned gauge issues), then hand-washed and laid it flat instead of machine-washing and drying. Then I finished the sweater and threw it in the washer and dryer. We’ll see what happens! Hopefully I can still wear the sweater afterwards. It seems silly to have to hand-wash and flat dry what is essentially a t-shirt, so if it’s not easy care, I guess I might as well find out now instead of after it’s a cherished essential piece in my wardrobe and I accidentally toss it in the hamper. Anyway, I did read up on it beforehand and people have said it tightens up a bit and takes very well to machine washing. Not sure about drying. If it’s a disaster, I surely will have notes on it in the near future–it’s in the dryer as I type this. Wish me luck!

While I think the finished top is really cute, I did find the pattern kind of weird and annoying to work with at certain points, for a few minor reasons. Believe me, I totally understand the headaches of trying to sort these things out when drafting a pattern, and I don’t think I could do any better (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t point fingers at other people’s pattern-writing abilities!) but nonetheless, should you be in the market for Zephyr Style patterns and wondering about how they’re written, let me tell you what my gripes with this were:

  • No schematics in the pattern. This is the biggest annoyance. I couldn’t decide if I should make the XS or the S (since both cover a 32” bust)–seems like the S gives a 32” actual bust size, meaning negative ease if you’re on the larger end of the range. I wasn’t sure if the sleeves would actually fit over my biceps (thankfully, they did)–I had an issue with the sleeves being too tight on my Green Gable and had to redo my bind-offs on that top before I could actually wear it. There is also no information about the intended or modeled ease.
  • No stitches put on hold/cast on at the underarm. Just a note, not a gripe (yet). I’ve just seen the put 8%-of-underarm-stitches-on-hold thing in numerous patterns, though I’m not sure what type of functional difference it makes in the fit. I’ll see how it fits when it’s done and washed.
  • Asymmetrical waist shaping decreases. OK, actually, there’s nothing wrong with this, but I kind of like symmetrical ssk/k2tog shaping on either side of a seam instead of using just k2tog on one side of the seam.
  • Very sparse with the stitch counts. I’m pretty sure I got it right, but it would have been very helpful to see a detailed breakdown of stitch counts in the puff sleeve increase/decrease sections in particular so I could easily double-check my work and see if everything was OK. I’m not personally bothered by the lack of information about the increase rounds, as I’m capable of figuring out the number of increases per increase round from looking at the directions, but a beginner might have issues.
  • The lace is not charted out, and sl1-k1-psso is written as 3 separate steps (separated by commas) which confuses me since the 3 steps consume 2 stitches and result in 1 stitch. I prefer seeing it written using hyphens/dashes. In any case, I rewrote it using ssk.
  • The lace also calls for you to read your knitting on every other round, knitting into the knit stitches and YOs and purling into the purls. I don’t mind this, but again, if you’re a beginner, it might be easier to have it specified as “Row 10: K7, p2, k6” etc.
  • As someone’s notes somewhere on the internet point out (I can’t find them now, of course), the poof in the sleeves tends to vanish for many people, probably because of the tiered increases–i.e. XS and S have the same number of increases for the puffed sleeves, meaning the XS sleeves will be puffier than the S in proportion to the rest of the sweater, and the same deal for M/L, XL/XXL. We’ll see how mine come out. I don’t have my heart set on it either way.
  • Not a lot of information about the techniques they use. M1 is specified as Make One, but there are at least 4 different actual increases that could mean. The instructions for knitting the sleeves on two circulars are very sparse (they tell you to divide the stitches onto two circulars and knit in the round, but I can see this potentially causing issues for a beginner who wasn’t familiar with the technique). No cast-on is specified, even though they specify that you should use the backwards loop cast-on in their FAQ because apparently a lot of people were having issues with their necklines or underarm seams binding because the cast-on wasn’t stretchy enough.

It’s been ages since I made Green Gable, but I remember having some of the same issues with that top as well.

Anyway–I’m excited about wearing it, so thank you again for the pattern, knottygnome! I desperately hope it fits when it comes out of the dryer.

I had a bit of the yarn left over, about half a skein, so I cast on for a dishcloth.

Pattern: Yvonne’s Double Flower Cloth
Yarn used: Knit Picks Cotlin, Moroccan Red, approximately 1 skein
Needles used: A set of 5 US size 8/5 mm bamboo DPNs (sort of annoying–they kept falling out of the stitches. Two circs or magic loop would be easier to deal with)
Date started: May 12, 2008
Date finished: May 13, 2008

Mods: I was trying to use up the half-skein of yarn left over from my Rusted Root–I ran out of yarn at row 31 and had to rummage around to find the other half-skein of yarn left over from the Bainbridge Scarf so I could finish the cloth. I had some left over, so I knit a little garter stitch loop to use for hanging the cloth up to dry (just cast on 3 sts, knit every row for maybe 2 inches, folded it over, picked up stitches from the base of the loop and knit them together with the live stitches) and used the rest of the yarn to single-crochet around the outer border of the washcloth. Also, I used a lighter weight yarn and larger needles than recommended.
Notes: I don’t know the last time I spent so little time on a project and wound up with something so pretty and functional! Again, this photo is before washing and drying the cloth, so the knitting isn’t terribly even-looking. I think this is a great pattern, though–very easy to follow and fast to knit, with beautiful results.

“Most of all, he saw her waist, just where it narrowed, before the skirts spread. . . . He thought of her momentarily as an hour-glass, containing time, which was caught in her like a thread of sand, of stone, of specks of life, of things that had lived and would live. She held his time, she contained his past and his future, both now cramped together, with such ferocity and such gentleness, into this small circumference.”

— A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance (You can use Search Inside on the Amazon page linked here to read the whole passage.)

The scene this quote is taken from is quite possibly my favorite passage of all time, in my favorite book of all time. Maybe not–there are plenty of other wonderful books in competition with this one, after all. I have yet to encounter anything that sent chills down my spine quite like this, though. The way the timeline and plot of the entire book swung around this pivotal scene on the beach; the way the symbols, images, and linguistic references fell so neatly into place, like the pieces of an intricate and wonderful puzzle; the way Byatt captures that wonderfully bittersweet feeling of being gloriously happy, but knowing the feeling cannot last.

With that in mind, I bring you the Hourglass Pullover, finished at last.



We walked downtown on Saturday, clad in handknits, and admiring the glistening sculptures of ice-coated bushes here and there, watching squirrels and the first early cardinals searching for food in the melting snow, breaking off icicles from car bumpers and fencing with them before throwing them down on the pavement to shatter.

These photos were taken on the Indiana University campus, which was quiet and peaceful, it being the first weekend of Spring Break. We stopped again, a bit further on, and took pictures of ourselves in front of the Sample Gates, the iconic entrance to campus, at Kirkwood and Indiana.

We enjoyed some of our favorite Bloomington pleasures: going to the public library to get our fix of free books and DVDs, stopping in at the yarn shop and bookstores downtown, having lunch at Roots, the vegetarian restaurant on the square, buying beer and chocolate at Sahara Mart.

While we were at Roots, I spied something interesting across the street–sadly, didn’t get any pictures of it, but it turned out to be a big brown falcon that had caught a pigeon and was perched in a tree outside the courthouse, eating its lunch as we ate ours. It was our second interesting brush with birds that day: I woke up to the sight of two fat, fluffed-up mourning doves perched on my bike basket on the balcony, directly outside the French door to our bedroom.

We saw our friend Jeff on our walk home, just as it started to snow again, and he gave us a ride the rest of the way home. At home, we watched about 20 minutes of The Motorcycle Diaries before switching to a documentary about three-toed sloths (both courtesy of the Monroe County Public Library).

And yesterday, Sunday, we rode our bikes out to run errands in the cold, and later, went to a jalapeno-filled potluck dinner at our friends Steve and Jeanne’s house, with their friend Dan and our friend Charlie, and had drinks and Girl Scout Cookies and played Super Smash Brothers on the Wii (I’m abysmal at it, despite usually liking fighting games).

On balance, we’ve been very happy in Bloomington. We’ve had so many wonderful, simple pleasures to enjoy; our town is peaceful, quiet, small, easy to navigate; best of all, we’ve made great friends here, whom we run into randomly around town, or with whom we can make last-minute plans without the transportation/logistics issues of a larger city. I get to work at home at the moment, doing useful work for a company with wonderful, interesting, intelligent coworkers. It’s been a real pleasure making friends with local knitters through the internet and meeting up every couple of weeks to knit and chat and admire each other’s projects.

It’s been bittersweet, though, because we know it can’t last. Rahul is wrapping up his MBA, and even if we stay in town longer (a possibility, since he’s applied to a Ph.D. program here) it won’t be the same, since our best friends here are all, or almost all, moving away at the end of the year. We’re going up to UW-Madison later this week–another possibility for a place we might be in a few months–hopefully stopping in Chicago to see some museums and/or drink some green beer on the way back. I don’t know where we’ll be in a few months, or what we’ll be doing.

Again from Byatt:

“Let us not think of time.”

“We have reached Faust’s non-plus. We say to every moment ‘Verweile doch, du bist so schoen,’ and if we are not immediately damned, the stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.'”

Here we are, then, in the narrow waist of the hourglass, watching our days slip by, with such ferocity and such gentleness, as the snow melts and spring edges in.

Whatever we do next, I’m sure it will be fine, as well, but I can’t help but look around, and think of how lovely it has been to be here, now.

Pattern: The Hourglass Sweater, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Size made: Small (33 inches)

Yarn used: Fleece Artist Blue Face DK, a 100% bluefaced Leicester yarn, in Periwinkle. I bought this on sale–30% off, I think–from Ram Wools. I used perhaps 1.4 skeins of this, or about 700 yards (it comes in a giant put-up, 250 g/450 m)

Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm and US size 10/6.0 mm circulars

Date started: November 14, 2007 (cast on as an airplane knitting project for my trip back home for Thanksgiving/San Diego)

Date finished: March 3, 2008 (it took me ages! All that stockinette, and the never-ending giant skein of yarn, was disheartening)

Mods: My main modification was the gauge: I got 19 sts and 23 rows to 4 inches, so I had to adjust the number of rows throughout. 7 rounds between body decrease rounds, 11 rounds between body increase rounds; 30 rounds between sleeve decrease rounds, 13 rounds between sleeve increase rounds.

I didn’t adjust the even/decrease rounds in the yoke, but I did work 2 extra sets of decrease/even rounds to reduce the neckline size, winding up with 10 sts at the top of each sleeve instead of 14.

I knit the sleeves first, magic-loop. I used a provisional cast-on for all lower hems, and knit them up into the live stitches. I used a size 10 needle to do this for the sleeves, but forgot to bring it with me when I was knitting up the body hem, so the body hem was knit up with a size 7. My reasoning for this was that the hem always tends to pull in the row of stitches where it’s been knit up, so using a larger needle size would allow for more yarn in that row of stitches, compensating for the additional length the yarn needs to go through the hem stitches in addition to the body stitches. It seemed to work fairly well–you can see in the pictures that it seems like the sleeves have pulled/ruffled less than the lower hem on the body of the sweater.

For the neckline hem, I figured it would be too fiddly and annoying to sew the live stitches down to the body, so I just bound off using *k2tog, place st back on left needle* and then used the long tail from the bind-off to loosely whipstitch the neckline hem down to the inside of the sweater.

Notes:

The pictures above aren’t great, but they’ll do, unless I get the urge to do a new photoshoot.

Check the errata (PDF) for the sweater before you begin. If you follow the directions as written, the increases and decreases won’t stack up on either side of a central stitch, but will migrate to one side or the other.

The yarn did pool quite a bit, and as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, it turns out I’m not crazy about the hand-dyed, variegated aesthetic when it comes to sweaters, but I love this pullover anyway. It’s very comfortable and soft, with a slight shine to it almost like unbrushed mohair, and from what I know about BFL, the yarn will probably wear well, with minimal pilling. I think the overall shape of the sweater–boatneck raglan with waist shaping and bell sleeves–is pretty flattering, and the boatneck is just the right size for me, not too high, so it’s comfortable to wear, and not too low, so it doesn’t slip off my shoulders. Along with the Leaf Lace Pullover, it’s a useful, casual pullover that will make a great addition to my wardrobe.

I started using a new technique to count rows on this sweater. I find it less obtrusive than using a row counter and easier and faster than stopping to write down hash marks on a separate piece of paper–my two other usual techniques for counting rows. (I also sometimes use a row counter made of a piece of waste yarn tied into loops, one for every row I want to count, and move down one loop as I finish each row, but that technique doesn’t work well if you have, say, 10 even rounds to every decrease round, because you need such a long, dangly row counter.) So this method is incredibly simple, but somehow it had never occurred to me before. Here it is:

Counting Rows with Two Stitch Markers

Place one stitch marker at the beginning of the round as usual (the pink pearl marker in the picture below). Now place one more stitch marker next to it. Every time you come to the end of the round, move the second stitch marker (the blue glass/pearl stitch marker in the picture below) one stitch to the left by removing it, knitting one additional stitch, then replacing it. When you’ve completed the appropriate number of even rounds, work your increase or decrease round, remove the second marker altogether, work back to the beginning of the round and place the second stitch marker back in its starting position next to the first one. To figure out which round you’re on, count the number of stitches between the first and second marker. No stitches means you’ve just completed an increase or decrease round and you’re currently on the first even round. One stitch means you’ve completed one even round. And so on. So in the photo below, I have completed 4 rounds even:

I knit one more round and move the second stitch marker to the left: five rounds completed:

And so on. The first marker never moves, and your increases/decreases will still take place around that marker (the pink pearl marker, in this example). And, my demo photo aside, this method of counting will most likely not work if you’re working lace or cables in the zone between the markers. But it’s simple, you don’t have to pause to pick up a pen or fiddle with a dangly row counter, and it works well for plain stockinette.

The other knitty thing chemgrrl and I did on Saturday, aside from walnut dyeing, was a little photoshoot for my Lara sweater in the pretty grove of trees beside her house.

You can still see some collar screwiness in the back view where I couldn’t get the collar extensions to quite lie flat, but it’s improved, and I’m happy with it now.

One of her kitties wanted to help.

Pattern: Lara, from Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk

Size: Small (40″). That’s 8″ of ease, people. 8″! Or 20 cm, as I now know from many a ball band! It makes for a roomy, comfy Big Sack sweater.

Yarn used: 11 or 12 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran from fuzzymabel.com. I used their free shipping sale and got an extra skein through their Fuzzy Dozen discount. My notes say I used 11 skeins, but I only seem to have one skein left over, so I may have forgotten to write one down. The color is 110 Opal.

Needles used: Size 8 Boye Needlemaster. I have no idea what cable length I was using.

Started: 9/13/07

Finished: 9/26/07

Mods: I used a provisional cast-on to start the first sleeve at the stockinette portion, then knit the ribbing on both sleeves at the same time, so I could make them longer as necessary. I should have done the same for the front ribbing sections, but I was lazy and instead used a suspended BO in 2×2 rib on the one side, and a cable cast-on on the other. I think it looks fine, as evidenced by the photo below. (Isn’t that a neat pin, by the way? It’s an antique Art Nouveau pin showing some flowers on a crescent moon)

Notes: The cuff-to-cuff construction of this sweater was really interesting. (Check the archives in the Lara category for more of my notes about this) The sweater got really huge after I blocked it, but I’m still happy with it, and this yarn is to die for–so amazingly soft and squishy, and it looks really high-quality, with a subtle sheen from the silk. No pilling so far, but we’ll see how that goes… I’ve heard this yarn doesn’t wear well. The stockinette has an interesting rippled texture, as Clara notes in her review on Knitter’s Review.

Dolman sleeves are not terribly flattering in general, but it’s OK in this particular sweater, I think. You can see the excess fabric kind of flopping around a bit in the shoulder and underarm area.

The ginormousness of this sweater, coupled with its luscious softness, has already made this my go-to sweater for cuddling up in when it’s a little chilly in the house.

Verdict: Project Starfish Pig is a success! (It is my goal to become the #1 listing on Google when you search for “starfish pig.” I am currently #4, behind a couple of pages about dissections and a page containing an email forward of humorous animal facts coupled with sassy commentary. Starfish pig starfish pig starfish pig.)